The NY Times reveals itself and what news we’ll see in 2020

Summary: Occasionally a burst of information emerges from inside our major institutions. These are usually too disturbing and so ignored. Such as this transcript of a “town hall” discussion in the NY Times newsroom. Read it to see what they will tell you during the next few years – and why, and with what results.

TV showing "Lies! Lies! Lies!"
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Slate has a blockbuster story by Ashley Feinberg: “In a transcript of the newspaper’s crisis town-hall meeting, executive editor Dean Baquet grapples with a restive staff and outside scrutiny.” This has everything. A candid look inside a major institution. A preview of the news that we will be fed by most of the major news media during the next few years (like schooling fish, they independently think and act alike). A look at the results of a generational-long program to indoctrinate our young by America’s major universities (we even paid for it!).

Since this is America, it has gotten little attention. I strongly recommend that you read it. Here are some of the juiciest quotes, with a brief analysis – just scratching the surface of this rich lode of information.

Baquet:  “This is a really hard story, newsrooms haven’t confronted one like this since the 1960s. It got trickier after [inaudible] … went from being a story about whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and obstruction of justice to being a more head-on story about the president’s character. We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well. Now we have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story.”

They built their newsroom to cover one story: RussiaGate. Now that much of what they have said has been proven false, and their conclusions delusional, they must find another story. But there are no lessons learned, no awareness of errors, and no remorse for misleading readers for two years.

Baquet: “This one is a story about what it means to be an American in 2019. It is a story that requires deep investigation into people who peddle hatred, but it is also a story that requires imaginative use of all our muscles to write about race and class in a deeper way than we have in years. In the coming weeks, we’ll be assigning some new people to politics who can offer different ways of looking at the world. We’ll also ask reporters to write more deeply about the country, race, and other divisions.”

Here we have a rare candid look at how the NYT does journalism. They identify the message that they will push, the filter and slant they apply to the news. For the next few years all opposition to the Left’s agenda will be painted as racism. All opponents to the Left will be described as racists. Stoking inter-racial hatred will be their way to gain clicks.

Staffer: “Could you explain your decision not to more regularly use the word racist in reference to the president’s actions?”

Baquet has difficulty answering this because from the perspective of those in the room (if there were dissenters, they wisely remained silent), the President (and more generally, conservatives are racist). Why should the NYT not follow the Left’s standard practice and cry “racist racist racist” – constantly? He eventually comes to a practical, not ideological, reason.

Baquet: “I think that that word loses its power by the second or third time.”

One discussion they do not have, and is critical for the coming surge of inter-racial hatred: can racial minorities be racist? Leftist ideology distorts its meaning to answer “no.”

Staffer: “I have another question about racism. I’m wondering to what extent you think that the fact of racism and white supremacy being sort of the foundation of this country should play into our reporting. Just because it feels to me like it should be a starting point, you know? Like these conversations about what is racist, what isn’t racist. I just feel like racism is in everything. It should be considered in our science reporting, in our culture reporting, in our national reporting. And so, to me, it’s less about the individual instances of racism, and sort of how we’re thinking about racism and white supremacy as the foundation of all of the systems in the country.”

This is America’s future. Universities, especially our “elite” universities that produce America’s elites, have been teaching this message for a generation. Now there are critical numbers of people with this indoctrination in key institutions – especially entertainment and journalism. They consider our system evil. Our culture is racists. Capitalism is evil. They hate our society, and are quite open about wanting to wreck it. This meeting is a Leftist newsroom pushing the NYT’s management to become a propaganda machine, because in their eyes there is the Left and there are racist (and presumably sexist) people. There are no sides. There is no debate.

In his reply, Baquet signs on to the project.

Baquet: “…I don’t know how to answer that, other than I do think that that race has always played a huge part in the American story. I do think that race and understanding of race should be a part of how we cover the American story. Sometimes news organizations sort of forget that in the moment. But of course, it should be. One reason we all signed off on the 1619 Project and made it so ambitious and expansive was to teach our readers to think a little bit more like that. Race in the next year – and I think this is, to be frank, what I would hope you come away from this discussion with – race in the next year is going to be a huge part of the American story. And I mean, race in terms of not only African Americans and their relationship with Donald Trump, but Latinos and immigration.”

The rest of the discussion is people venting about the evil of Donald Trump and presumably the half of America who voted for him, and how the NYT’s job is to fight them.

About the 1619 Project: agitprop for the 21st Century.

From the NYT’s introduction to the project.

“In August of 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near Point Comfort, a coastal port in the British colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed. In the 400th anniversary of this fateful moment, it is finally time to tell our story truthfully. The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”

About racism

Racism is the closest thing America has to an original sin. But it is not everything about America. Immigrants from Haiti and Nigeria, for example, have done quite well in America, suggesting that the story of racial relations is more complex than the Left says. Also, focusing the story on racism ignores the obvious pathologies in African-American culture in the US – and denying African-Americans agency (i.e., they become passive victims, not people).

Worse, abandoning the equal rights theme of the Civil Rights movement is stoking racial hatred. This is social poison, which the Democratic Party is injecting into our politics for their political gain. The consequences will be ugly, or worse. America’s greatest strength has been out social cohesion. The Left and Right want to break that, reducing us to warring tribes – as in the success stories of the Balkens, Latin America (they once said “Rich as an Argentinian”), and Africa. Those are success stories – for their elites, who have fed the passions of their people, focused them on past wrong, and plundered them.

That will be our future too, if we allow it.

About journalism

The Left’s conquest of so many major news media organizations will force changes. The rise of Fox News foreshadows our future, with two sets of “news” – each carefully curated to provide tribal truths and hatred of the Others. As seen in the discussion in the NYT newsroom, the staff has little interest in journalism.

But this requires our cooperation. Journalism is a business, providing a product that we consume. If we refuse their servings of propaganda, then some news services will give us what we want. Ultimately we get the news that we want. We have the power and the responsibility that comes with it.

“Choice. The problem is choice.”
— Neo in The Matrix Reloaded.

The Screwtape Letters
Available at Amazon.

A note from the past

Some saw this coming a long time ago, as in this from The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis (1942).

My dear Wormwood {a junior fellow at the Center for American Something or Other},

It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy’s clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier.  At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it.  They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning.

But what with the weekly press and other such weapons, we have largely altered that.  Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head.  He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” or “false”, but as “academic” or “practical”, “outworn” or “contemporary,” “conventional” or “ruthless.”  Jargon, not argument is your best ally in keeping him from truth.

The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle onto the Enemy’s own ground.  He can argue too; whereas in really practical propaganda of the kind I am suggesting he has been shown for centuries to be greatly the inferior of Our Father Below.  By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient’s reason; and once it is awake, who can foresee the result. … Do remember you are there to fuddle him.  From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!

Your affectionate uncle,

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

This failure of the news media and our political system is an example of the broad institution failure I discuss in A new, dark picture of America’s future.

Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information see all posts about RussiaGateabout propaganda, about ways to reform America’s politics, and especially these …

  1. Describing the problem: Politics in modern America: A users’ guide for journalists and reformers.
  2. We cannot agree on simple facts and so cannot reform America.
  3. Important advice: Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America. About “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”.
  4. A nation lit only by propaganda.
  5. The secret, simple tool that persuades Americans. That molds our opinions.
  6. Remembering is the first step to learning. Living in the now is ignorance.
  7. Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America.
  8. We live in an age of ignorance, but can decide to fix this – today.
  9. American politics is a fun parade of lies, for which we pay dearly.
  10. Ways to deal with those guilty of causing the fake news epidemic.
  11. The secret source of fake news. Its discovery will change America.
  12. See how journalists work as a pack to manipulate us.
  13. We can’t reform America without a new news media.

Propaganda rules America! Read all about it!

Propaganda by Edward Bernays (1936). “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda by Noam Chomsky (2002). “Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”

"Propaganda" by Edward Bernays.
Available at Amazon.
"Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda" by Noam Chomsky.
Available at Amazon.


10 thoughts on “The NY Times reveals itself and what news we’ll see in 2020”

  1. TheAmericanMuse

    I work on the printing floor of a major Midwestern newspaper conglomerate. I of course have no first hand accounts of anything like this, being a mere printer, but I’ve heard complaints that the various papers we print don’t even have reporters, they write out the articles and suchlike with robot like programs or they lift it from other papers.

    We also do local packaging and distribution for the NYT and everyone was bitching about the big fat book in the middle of the paper, made it alot harder to stack the papers. I tried reading a copy on my lunch break and I threw it down in disgust halfway through. “All the news that’s fit to print” my ass. For a pearl-clutching left wing loony toon, maybe. To hear them talk about it you’d think America was the only nation in the world that practiced slavery.

    1. The American Muse,

      I live in a small city in Iowa, and as a subscriber of the local paper I well understand from the outside what you see from the inside!

      The problem is that Americans want news, they want high-quality news suitable for people of our awesomeness, but they won’t pay for news. Since we don’t pay for it, “we’re the product, not the customer.” So we don’t get to complain about its quality.

      But we can change. We can choose to “consume” news sources that tell us more than just tribal truths. Even more powerfully, we can pay for such sources. It’s all about choice.

      1. TheAmericanMuse

        I mean hey, a couple weeks ago I was the proverbial fly on the wall for a meeting between my boss, my bosses boss, and a suit from corporate. The whole business is making less money year by year, and the words out of the suits mouth was along the lines of “How can we manage our inevitable decline”, and “Young people aren’t buying the paper”. “Bill, this is a business, not a charity. Soon as we’re not making money for [our rich people owners, want to say top 10% I forget who atm] they’ll pull the plug.” Some of my coworkers are fatalistic about whether or not we’ll have a job “One day we’ll show up and there will be a sign on the door saying thanks, you’re all fired”

        We know for a fact that my generation isn’t picking up paper subscriptions. Just as well, since the papers have demonstrably grown so arrogant as to think they can dictate what is news and what isn’t. I like my coworkers, and my boss, hell this is a good union shop with benefits and a 35 hour work week, but it’s like Danny DeVito’s Other People’s Money: “At one point in time there must have been dozens of companies making buggy whips. Now how would you like to have been an investor in that company?”

      2. The America Muse,

        “since the papers have demonstrably grown so arrogant as to think they can dictate what is news and what isn’t.”

        I’ll take the other side of that coin. Your view implies that there is a formula for a newspaper that people would pay for (the classified ads aren’t coming back, so readers will have to pay more). Many have tried, nobody has found one.

        I’m always suspicious of claims that there is a lucrative market niche out there that companies are ignoring. They do exist, but they’re rare (I’ve tried to sell companies on them twice, always unsuccessfully).

        For more about this, see Politics in modern America: A users’ guide for journalists and reformers.

  2. I don’t know what the answer is, Larry, and the day I do you can call me a huckster.

    I get my news from a collection of various blogs with different views, and google news, and my local paper, of course, But you can’t trust the editors, you can’t trust facebook or google, you can’t trust uncle sam (who I dearly wanted to work for!) and I sure as hell don’t trust this brave new world of the 21st century.

    Aw, hell, maybe you can call me a huckster. Maybe this is simply the new normal, word of mouth again, like it was before the newspaper and electricity, only its the word of people you talk to on the internet. Reputation and all that.

    Just a thought, I won’t bet money or try to make a business out of it, though. Keep your eyes and ears open, trust no-one, and stop living like the good times won’t end, cause they did, they are, and I don’t like the implications of everything around us.

    1. As an aside, I find it funny that I just endorsed something called “online reputation” when I can remember my grade school computers class, where, after telling us about the strange machine that made garbled shrieking noises (dialup) and something called “the internet”, my teacher warned us all to never, EVER trust ANYONE on the internet, they could be BAD PEOPLE.

    2. The Muse,

      A historical note might help you put this in perspective. We have to be realistic. The idea of a “neutral” or “reliable” press is a recent invention. We in the West have had newspapers since the 17th century. Jonathan Swift, author of Guillver’s Travels, was a political writer in the early 18thC. To gain a balanced or fuller understanding of what was happening, each morning he would read several newspapers – each with its own spin on the news. That’s what politically active people did then, and do now.

      That’s how it was in the 1930s. See the great scene in His Gal Friday, where reporters phone in stories about a jailbreak. They each give a wildly different spin to the news!

      British papers have true diversity, compared to the US news media. As explained in this scene from “Yes, Minister”:

      Prime Minister Hacker: “Don’t tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers.

      The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country;
      The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country;
      The Times is read by people who actually do run the country;
      The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country;
      The Financial Times is read by people who own the country;
      The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country; and
      The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.”
      Sir Humphrey: “Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?”

      Bernard: “Sun readers don’t care who runs the country, as long as she’s got big tits.”

  3. The right vs left divide is getting worse evrywhere.

    In Australia we have a young man who stabbed a prostitute to death and then a woman in the street as he left the dead prostitute in the hotel room, where he had killed her. The man was tackled by by-standers and a couple of fire service guys who where near by. We have had the anyone should be safe at work, even a prostitute, then the fire service are heroes story, both true. The man had a USB with extremist propaganda on it, but the news tells us it was not related to the incident, the man was mentally unstable and had sever mental issues.

    Then I saw a film clip on TRnews

    They are just not one and the same story.

  4. Personally it has been the western media coverage of the syrian war that killed any remaining trust in in what passes for news these days.
    Multiple sources and a lot of guessing are a must now.

    1. Satepestage,

      Yes, the coverage of the Syrian War has been pretty fictional. But I’ve been reading US news media coverage of foreign affairs for 4 decades. It’s always been pretty poor, and told in either terms useful to US politics or as children’s morality tales. Remember the NYT’s coverage of Stalin’s show trials: fiction for which they won a Pulitzer (and never gave it back).

      I don’t think – guessing – that it has gotten worse. Certainly hasn’t gotten better.

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